New Mexico road improvements, other capital projects now in doubt amid partisan fight

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SANTA FE, New Mexico — The fate of state and local capital improvements, ranging from needed highway improvements to athletic fields, is looking bleak following an amendment that sparked partisan fighting.

A GOP-controlled House Ways and Means Committee voted along party lines Friday to amend a Senate-approved bill for $272 million in projects. That amendment sought to reduce some projects and fund highways through bonds.

Sen. John Arthur Smith, a Deming Democrat, denounced the move and said he didn't believe the House proposal responsibly funded needed highway improvements. He says the changes likely put the capital outlay bill in danger with only hours remaining in the legislative session.

But Rep. Jason Harper, a Rio Rancho Republican, says Senate Democrats had held the proposal "hostage" by demanding a new gas tax. He says Gov. Susana Martinez would have likely vetoed the Senate plan.

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